Posted in gardening, Life

Words for Wednesday: Strawberry patch forever

One of the aspects of summer as a child that I vividly recall was my parents’ garden.

Every year, my elderly grandparents, who lived with us, wanted home grown produce and that meant a large vegetable garden. And every year, even after both my grandparents passed away, my mother and father planted one.

Nothing tasted better than freshly picked vegetables and fruit straight from the garden, especially after you endured a hot, sun-filled day plucking them from the plants. I spent many summer days on the back porch shelling peas, snapping beans, and husking corn to help my mother.

Vegetable gardens require a lot of work and attention, but the rewards are worth it.

Not only must you prepare the soil before planting, but then you must ascertain when to plant certain crops, sow either seeds or fledgling plants, water if there isn’t enough rain, hoe to keep the weeds at bay, chase critters out of the budding garden or put up a fence to protect the free smorgasbord that animals are enticed by, and then once the plants begin producing, pick the crops, and prepare them for eating, canning, or freezing.

Every spring, my city-born husband, the Papa of our empty nest out here in the country, strives to plant a small garden. Some years we enjoy bounty; sometimes the crops are scanty depending on weather conditions, pesky insects, and foraging animals. The solution to critters is he puts a fence around the garden every year.

A number of years ago, he planted six blueberry bushes in our yard. Very quickly we learned we must cover them with a net canopy supported by arching PVC piping (which Papa designed and built) to protect the budding blueberries from hungry birds. By doing so, we usually have a bumper crop. But then the attack of the Japanese beetles arrived, and we learned we had to fight them off as well.

For a few years, we also reaped abundant strawberries, but after a time, the plants stopped producing and those had to be dug out and replaced.  Papa ordered new ones and planted those three years ago.

The first year the plants were too young to produce, the next year, those hungry (but not angry) birds found them and decimated the crop. This year, Papa covered the plants in the spring with netting supported by a fence.

Earlier this month, we spent a few days away from home traveling to see some sights. And the photo above is what we came back home to find – loads and loads of strawberries. That photo was merely the first picking.

For a number of days, our baskets were heaped to the hilt full of fresh, ripe, ruby red strawberries. Strawberry freezer jam, strawberry shortcake, strawberries on breakfast waffles, we’ve had it all. And I deposited several quarts in the freezer for later as well.

It seemed the strawberry patch and my red-stained fingers would go on forever, but of course, that didn’t happen. Strawberry produce time has come to an end just as the blueberries are starting to develop on our bushes.

More picking. More freezing. More jam making. More searching high and low for recipes requiring those nutritious blueberries that hopefully will be plentiful.

According to some studies, blueberries and strawberries possess something called anthocyanins which can help reverse memory loss that’s associated with aging. That’s a good reason to eat them right there!

Strawberries also are packed with vitamin C, which boosts our immune systems, potassium, folic acid, and fiber. And because of their high polyphenol content, both strawberries and blueberries might help protect against heart disease.

And the great part is that much of the nutrition contained in those berries is retained when you freeze them. That’s why you’ll find containers loaded with blue and red berries in our freezer.  

It’s not true that the strawberry patch will last forever, and neither will the blueberries produce for longer than the few weeks in summer, but we will still enjoy their bounty for months to come when we pull out a freezer bag full of their goodness.

“If there were wild strawberries in Eden, and there must have been, Adam was a fool as well as a sinner to taste any other fruit.” ~ Hal Borland

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2021

Posted in gardening, Home, Life

Words for Wednesday: Pea Pickin’

It was pretty green around here the other day.

Little One (our oldest grandchild) and Papa went out to the garden and picked peas – two baskets full. Peas, peas, and more peas. Our two little rows of plants were loaded down with green pods chock full of those round little balls of deliciousness.

Little One helped me shell quite a few of those peas until she got a tad weary of it.

As we worked together, you might say we were like two peas in a pod. I split open the pods, handed them to Little One and she plucked out the peas and deposited them into a colander.

While the two of us sat at the kitchen table shelling those peas, childhood memories floated back to me, summertime sweet memories, as sweet as those peas.

I remember being a little girl just a couple of years older than my grandchild, sitting on the side porch with my own grandmother shelling peas from our family’s garden.

History seemed like it was repeating itself for me in a way as I shared my recollections with my five-year-old granddaughter right then and there.

And as I verbalized those memories, an old saying came back to me as well. Bless your little pea pickin’ heart.

I recalled that country singer/entertainer Tennessee Ernie Ford used that catch phrase a lot on television shows back when I was a child. And he also actually sang a song entitled, Bless Your Pea Pickin’ Heart.

You can listen to it here.

Who would think baskets full of fresh peas at pea pickin’ time would bring back so many  pea pickin’ memories?

“How luscious lies the pea within the pod.” ~ Emily Dickinson

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in gardening, Home, photography

Words for Wednesday: love is blue

blogIMG_8816Whenever I notice something blue, an old song from the late 1960’s entitled Love is Blue, (music composed by André Popp, French lyrics by Pierre Cour, and English lyrics by Bryan Blackburn) pops into my mind.

To me, the music sounds somewhat ethereal, almost haunting. I can remember loving to play the piece on the piano as a teenager and I still have the sheet music somewhere.

The lyrics to that song are sad and melancholy, telling the woeful tale of lost love.  “Blue, blue, my world is blue. Blue is my world, now I’m without you” are the opening lines.

Blue is always associated with feeling down, sad, lonely, or downright depressed. But for me, the color blue doesn’t have the same connotations.

Blue is one of my favorite colors and when paired with my absolute favorite, yellow, those two together just make me cheerful and happy.  I get a mental picture of bright yellow daffodils or vivid yellow sunflowers against a brilliantly blue sky. So beautiful.

I also love the clean, crisp look of blue enhanced with white. Wedgewood china comes to my mind. And Chinese porcelain or Holland’s delftware, or French toile fabric with blue designs. Again so very lovely.

In two different houses where we lived in the past (in the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest), our kitchen colors were blue and white. And even though I’m not that fond of cooking, I enjoyed being in those kitchens because of their décor color.  

Blue. When I see it, I’m definitely not feeling blue.

Blue is calming to me and I find myself drawn to blue in nature…blue skies, blue water, blue on a bird, blue flowers.

It’s one of the reasons I wanted a hydrangea – a blue one, of course – planted in our yard several years ago. When it blooms in late summer, I just want to sit and gaze at its gorgeous color because I love it so much.

For me, love IS blue. Big blossoms of blue. How could anyone feel blue looking at these?

“Blue thou art, intensely blue; Flower, whence came thy dazzling hue?” ~ James Montgomery

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Posted in gardening, photography

Be still…then move on

blogIMG_8715 (2)
Fresh strawberries from our own patch

One of the delightful aspects of country life is that we have plenty of room for gardens on our 2.25 acres.  Flower gardens surround the perimeter of our house with quite an assortment of perennials. A garden of blueberry bushes provides a bounty of berries every year at this time.

And a vegetable garden, which Papa plants and tends each spring and summer, graces our back yard. He provides the hard labor, I get to help harvest, and we both enjoy the abundance of fresh produce right from our plot of land.

During my blogging break of just being still, our garden provided good food for my stomach (as evidenced in my photos here) while my mind produced good thoughts for writing once more.

This year, Papa’s new strawberry plants, placed in the soil last year, produced delicious berries. Often we just ate them straight from the garden; other times we topped a breakfast waffle with them. Scrumptious with a spritz of whipped cream.

Our early peas were, by far, the sweetest and tastiest peas we’ve ever eaten, so Papa made note of what kind of seeds he planted so we can try them again next year.

blogIMG_8573 (2)
Fresh peas from our own garden

Unfortunately, that plot of ground supplying our garden goodies attracts wildlife to our salad bar, so every year, Papa must erect some fencing around it to keep out the marauding deer.

But the rabbits easily burrow under the fence so we’re fighting them off as best we can. Those green beans, cucumber, tomato, and pumpkin plants prove just too tempting for the critters but we’re attempting to beat them to the goodies.

During my blogging sojourn, I truly relished watching our garden grow, thankful for the rain and sunshine that nourished it, and for the goodies that in turn nourish us.

We not only need food for our bodies, we need food for our souls and that’s just what I accomplished during my writing break.

Today is the last in my series of “Be Still” posts. Just as I moved on from my blogging hiatus and once again plunked myself down at the keyboard with more words to express, I’m moving forward with more posts on a variety of subjects as inspiration comes.

I do hope you will visit and revisit my blog as I continue writing my garden of words here in this virtual world just like Papa and I visit and revisit our garden in the real world.

“I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation.  It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green.”
–   Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Fall, gardening, Uncategorized

Harvest of plenty

blogIMG_6226

We grew pumpkins for the first time this year.  Granddaughter enjoyed going into the garden with Papa to watch their progress as they grew and slowly changed from green to that familiar orange we associate with harvest time. 

She especially was tickled to see her name emerge on one of the chosen pumpkins. Years ago when our own three were children, dear friends of ours always had a back yard garden. The year they planted pumpkins, they invited us over to their home to show us a “magical” trick.

They helped each one of our children choose their own not nearly ripe pumpkin. Then our friends instructed our kiddos to scratch their names into the green pumpkins with a nail. 

When it came time for harvest, we sifted through the pumpkin vines finding those bright orange orbs ready to be turned into jack-o-lanterns. But the magic had happened! What a surprise!

It was easy for our children to find their own pumpkins again because each one of them found their name very visible and noticeable right on the pumpkin where the previous scratching had formed brown scars.

We showed this “magic” trick to our granddaughter this year. How delighted she was to find her pumpkin with her name boldly engraved on it.

Sometimes the harvest is plentiful in other ways than just physically.  During my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I’m remembering that and pausing to give thanks.

“A basic law: the more you practice the art of thankfulness, the more you have to be thankful for.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in gardening, Summer

Glad for the glads but…

blogIMG_5558We are past the dog days of summer.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the dog days of summer refer to the time period of July 3rd through August 11, supposedly the hottest and most oppressive period of the summer season. Once we pass that time period, summer starts to wane supposedly.

But we are still in its throes. Muggy weather and temperatures during the day that make it feel even stickier have been interspersed with some cooler days. Just not enough for me.

I, for one, am ready for summer to move on out, even though this summer hasn’t been as hot and humid as it often is. Summer is just not my favorite season. The heat and humidity we experience here in our neck of the woods is nothing like Southerners endure, but it’s still overwhelming and distressing to someone like me who likes temperate days with the windows of the house wide open.

When it’s sticky, muggy, and everything feels downright damp and the temps soar into the high 80’s and 90’s with humidity percentages in the same range, we must resort to air conditioning. And staying and sleeping inside an air conditioned home just seems so stale to me. I love my fresh air with windows wide open!

So I’m happy to see summer wind down and am hopeful it happens very soon. However, one aspect of the season that I will miss is the plethora of summer plants bearing their blossoming beauties.

We planted gladiolas this year in our perennial flower garden for the first time in the 18 years we’ve lived in this place. I remember with fondness the gorgeous, tall glads that beautified both my mother’s and my grandmother’s gardens, so this past spring when I saw some gladiola bulbs in the garden department of a local store, I convinced Papa to purchase and plant them.

We patiently watched for them to burst through the soil, but it seemed to take quite a while before any buds appeared on the stalks. And then…wow! They burst into radiant color. They and the lavender that we added to our garden have been a lovely aspect of this summer season.

I do so love the scent of lavender, so I pluck a stalk and take a little whiff of that pleasant scent often.  Lavender is known to reduce stress and anxiety and beneficial to promote relaxation and a good night’s sleep.

It’s true. When I take that little whiff of lavender, it makes me go “ahhh.” And anytime I’ve happened to inhale the scent of lavender essential oil, I get sleepy.

Sleepiness and sluggishness seem to go hand in hand for me in the summer season. I get bogged down by the heat and humidity and I just don’t feel like doing anything. Summer doldrums are real for me. I feel extremely lazy and lethargic and I don’t like it.

That’s one reason why I look forward to fall weather so very much. When the temperatures cool down and the humidity moves out, I’m such a happier person.

Fall weather, with its balmy yet sunny days and cool, brisk nights, perks me up, invigorating me to awaken out of my summer slump and get motivated.

Hopefully, it will entice me to write some more meaningful blog posts as well. So I’m ready to say goodbye to summer. I am glad for the glads, but this sweaty Mama is so ready to move on.

“It’s a sure sign of summer if the chair gets up when you do.” ~ Walter Winchell

 ©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com